Banner to Lose Ministry Share Funding After 2027

Banner to Lose Ministry Share Funding After 2027

Posted 05/08/2024
Alissa Vernon

The Christian Reformed Church’s official magazine, The Banner, will have to carry out its synodical mandate going forward without the use of ministry shares. At its May meeting the Council of Delegates accepted a proposal from its finance committee to “instruct The Banner to become self-sustaining through revenue, and fundraising, not including support through Ministry Share, beginning with the fiscal year starting July 1, 2027.” Ministry shares are monies pledged by congregations toward shared ministry and denominational costs. The revenue to the denomination from this source of funding has been decreasing. (See “Ministry Share Income Down for 2023 Fiscal Year,” May 10, 2022.)

Reduction in The Banner’s use of ministry shares will start in the coming fiscal year—restricted to $200,000—and continue to drop in the following years in order to get to zero by 2027. In the past six years The Banner has used an average of $317,661 in ministry share dollars per year to offset the cost of production not covered by fundraising and revenue.

Some revenue, an average of $133,355 per year, comes from service fees to denominational ministries for the publication of the “Our Shared Ministry” section of The Banner. That stream of revenue is expected to continue.

Some delegates questioned whether the Council of Delegates had the ability to withdraw ministry shares after synod had established that source of funding.

The Banner became officially part of the denomination in 1914” (Acts and Agenda of Synod 1998, p. 37), and in 2004 synod changed “The Banner from a subscription-based magazine to an every-household and ministry-share-supported magazine” (Acts of Synod 2004, p. 561).

“Did the finance committee entertain the thought of bringing this recommendation to the COD to receive or adopt and send to synod for action?” asked William Koopmans, Classis Hamilton. “Who in principle is responsible for this part of the future stability for the financial security of The Banner?”

Henry Eygenraam, a Canada at-large delegate who serves as chair of the Council’s finance committee, said, “Finance did not entertain that possibility. It wasn’t in our purview to do so. The matter was a financial one,” suggesting business decisions were necessary to live within the parameters that senior management of the denomination determined.

Withdrawing ministry share support from The Banner puts staff in the position of shouldering their own costs, “allowing them to make business decisions as we were making business decisions,” Eygenraam said.

This didn’t sit well with all delegates. Matt Ackerman, Classis Lake Erie, said, “The staff at The Banner could make those alterations without a threat.” The action of taking away all ministry shares "could seem threatening to those who love The Banner,” he said. “I wonder how this will be perceived. I wish we could find a middle way.”

Zachary King, general secretary for the CRC, noted that the “relationship between synod and money has changed.” With ministry shares coming from a pledge system instead of synod directing the amount to be contributed per congregation, “there is a difference—the COD and the ministry boards have to work through how things would be funded.”

In the end delegates voted 26 yes, 17 no, and 1 abstention to withdraw The Banner’s ministry share funding.